World champ Kunlavut out of Malaysia Masters

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Masters men's singles competition, starting Tuesday at Axiata Arena, will be missing another top-10 player as reigning world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn withdrew at the last minute.

Prior to the draw last week, Indonesian stars Jonatan Christie and Anthony Ginting also decided to skip the Super 500 tournament.

World No. 8 Kunlavut, the semi-finalist of last week's Thailand Open, was supposed to be the tournament's fourth seed, and his absence leaves the competition with only four top-10 players.

They are Denmark's Viktor Axelsen (No. 1) and Anders Antonsen (No. 4), China's Li Shi Feng (No. 6), and Thailand Open winner Lee Zii Jia (No. 10).

Kunlavut's withdrawal triggered a reshuffling in the draw. According to the new ruling, the next highest-seeded player in the same quarter of the draw will replace the absentee.

As a result, Singapore's Loh Kean Yew, originally the fifth seed, has been promoted to fill the void left by Kunlavut.

Another player who benefited from the reshuffle was Taiwan's world No. 16 Lin Chun Yi.

He will now replace Kean Yew and face Indonesia's Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo, the 2022 winner.

Chun Yi has found Malaysia to be a favourable venue, having reached the semi-finals in both the Malaysia Masters last May and the Malaysia Open in January.

In the qualifying draw, back-up shuttler Ong Zhen Yi received a spot due to several withdrawals.

Initially fourth on the reserve list, Zhen Yi now has a chance to make his Super 500 debut by winning two matches on Tuesday.

He will first face Hong Kong's Jason Gunawan. If he advances, he will face Denmark's Mads Christophersen or Indonesia's Alwi Farhan.

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